Moving. Out, up, in, around, among… I got a new address with my old lady, life is good, and the past several days have seen my gradual transformation from carefree slob to responsible Rob.
Ok, ya got me. I only typed that because it rhymes.
Today’s contribution to my eventual relocation included a Rubbermaid tub (one of several) filled with baseball cards, a piece of luggage weighed with smaller pieces of luggage, and a box of stuff: pictures from childhood, deodorant, an old pair of glasses that I shan’t admit I ever wore and a random, white plug that goes to a random, white device. Of the items that rode to the new pad in said box, these I presently recall.
I have years’ worth of crap, why?
On the passenger-side floorboard of my sporty Kia rested since yesterday a collection of change in a vase-like container. Some people create rain; others prefer drizzle. The joke goes that tossing change at a stripper equates to making it hail. Even people who make it hail appear Trump-like in my mind’s eye. My change goes in a bucket.
I elected that, rather than lugging upstairs with the baseball cards and the suitcase and the junk box, the bucket o’ change would off board at another depot: the Blue Bell Giant Coinstar. Carrying a few paper notes up the elevator and down the long hall to our new front door proved a preferred alternate to invariably tripping over the odd-designed hotel quality carpeting in front of apartment 603 and collapsing into a puddle of multi-denominational, metal tokens. If a new neighbor happens to hear that ruckus, they’d find upon opening their door a pathetic idolater, puking the gods’ names into a pool of unfulfilled wishes–minus the ornate fountain and the calming flow of crystal clear water. Not a grand first impression.
Of course, the decision is not made lightly to use a coin counter by the front door of a busy supermarket during evening rush. The machine is loud. As fuck. I’m pretty sure this is intended to shame the user, as if to scream,
Hey, everyone! Look at this loser. Counting change and shit.
Why don’t you go hit up a dollar menu with all those nickels, you bum?
Let’s all point and feel better about ourselves.
Adding to the ambiance of desperation, the Coinstar sits next to the lottery machine. Not one of those modern, do-it-all deals where you can play your lucky numbers for every drawing over the coming six months, this is a scratch-off only kiosk. It may as well be a noisy-bar cigarette machine. Remember those clear yet tar-stained glass pulls, from a time when parents sent their kids “around the corner” to the local dive for packs of smokes? I think you even get a book of matches with every Super Bingo ticket you invest in.
*The Lottery Commission has adopted a new disclaimer – something about lighting your house on fire instead of betting your future in a church-basement grifter game.
Lottery and coin conversion: Not a whole lot of redemption to be found as you question your impulse shopping habits and admit to yourself that you’re never going to eat all those baby carrots before they go slimy. But 2 bags for $5? That’s a great deal.
What about paying the 10.9% fee because I’m too lazy to roll my change and haul it to the bank myself? Fucked as I am, I’m not about to spend three hours rolling up a shit-ton of dirty-ass coins that have been pawed-and-fingered by lord-knows-who. The 10.9% seems a fair wage for the midget hiding inside that magical metal can: a poor man’s poor-man’s ATM.
What I get a kick out of, whenever I succumb to the clangy siren’s song of the currency devouring harlot, is what the machine throws back. Here’s a contraption that chugs pennies and quarters but, for whatever reason, finds a Sacagawea Dollar unacceptable. I wanna tell it,
“Bitch, please! If that bitch knew you rejected something so shiny, she’d claim your scalp in a Jamestown minute!”
Before I earlier entered the Giant with my heavy load, I doubled back to the car to collect the loose change collected in the Kia’s center console. Mostly change, that is. You know how it goes – other shit falls in there and we kinda just go “eh” and leave it–’til a day like today. Dumping my dollars into the Coinstar, I’d noticed a few items doing their own thing, so I let them ride. The button always returns; it’s survived three or four of these purges. Maybe someday I’ll sew it onto an old shirt, you know, to reward it for its dedication. A paperclip. Are those generic ibuprofen tumbling into the belly of the beast? They are. Somehow, the machine accepted these.
Perhaps the counting dwarf had a rough one last night. Who am I to judge?
Once the coins ceased dropping and the counter ceased counting, I collected my ticket to riches. Minus 10.9%. Cash in hand – well, cash and empty receptacle in hand – I ran to the car, dropped the bucket into the box marked “Random” and returned to Giant to get some needed items. The small crowd that’d gathered for the spectacle was dispersing; I approached.
“What’s going on?” I asked an elderly woman.
“Some loser just cashed in a bunch of change and a few Advils.”
“People are nuts,” I replied.
“That’s what’s wrong with this country, ya know?”
“Sure is,” I wink-and-nodded. “You have a good day, Ma’am.”
I left the store carrying twenty cans of cat food and the tiniest amount of dignity. But that’s when I saw it: Two spaces away, the same old woman from inside stood panicked by the raised front end of her Dodge Dart. Below, I could barely make out the shape…
Grunting and swearing, the coin midget stood, rolled the flat tire from its perch, and hoisted a donut into its place. He wiped the sweat and grease from his brow just in time to catch me skulking by in the accelerating Kia, my head hanged in shame.
When I got to the light at Township Line, I took a deep breath, glanced up into the rear-view, and declared “Something’s gotta change here.”
Driving home, the Sun’s beams forced my brow to furrow and a pain to shoot across my temple. I reached into the center console, but there was no help there.
“Damn you, Change Dwarf!”